Koeberg electric fault leaves Eskom on tight margin

Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station has lost one of its two units to an electrical fault, the power utility said.

“The power system is extremely tight at present,” it said as a result.

Koeberg provides around 6% of South Africa’s power, and has been operating since 1984 with a capacity of 1 800MW.

This means that 900MW has been lost from the power grid. And after the recent Limpopo floods halved the capacity coming from the Cahora Bassa Dam, Eskom’s reserve capacity is only 365MW.

With an evening peak of nearly 32 000MW, this means the reserve is around 1%. Best practice for a power utility is to have a reserve of 15%, but Eskom has not been able to manage this for several years. 


With Eskom running on such a low margin, the power utility has had frequent panics due to Koeberg.

In 2005 two separate incidents led to the reactors dipping their output. These left large parts of Cape Town without power.

In 2011 Unit 2 automatically shut down because of a fault. In 2010 the station was shut down to mitigate any risk that could happen after one of the cooling systems was found to have corroded.

Both of these situations put pressure on the national grid at the time.

The station, located just north of Cape Town, is normally shut down every 18 months for maintenance.  

Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station has lost one of its two units to an electrical fault, the power utility said.

“The power system is extremely tight at present,” it said as a result.

Koeberg provides around 6% of South Africa’s power, and has been operating since 1984 with a capacity of 1 800MW.

This means that 900MW has been lost from the power grid. And after the recent Limpopo floods halved the capacity coming from the Cahora Bassa Dam, Eskom’s reserve capacity is only 365MW.

With an evening peak of nearly 32 000MW, this means the reserve is around 1%. Best practice for a power utility is to have a reserve of 15%, but Eskom has not been able to manage this for several years. 

With Eskom running on such a low margin, the power utility has had frequent panics due to Koeberg.

In 2005 two separate incidents led to the reactors dipping their output. These left large parts of Cape Town without power.

In 2011 Unit 2 automatically shut down because of a fault. In 2010 the station was shut down to mitigate any risk that could happen after one of the cooling systems was found to have corroded.

Both of these situations put pressure on the national grid at the time.

The station, located just north of Cape Town, is normally shut down every 18 months for maintenance.  

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